It is such a pleasure to feature Brandy Shapiro-Babin, who co-founded digital radio and podcast network WebmasterRadio.FM with her husband, Daron Babin, in 2004. When I was head of communications at Arc Worldwide, the digital arm of Leo Burnett, we met at ad:tech Chicago. And a professional and personal relationship blossomed from there.
In the spirit of this blog, focused on creativity and leadership, I interviewed Brandy on entrepreneurialism and creative problem-solving to make her dreams come true and to grow her business. I have always admired Brandy a a pioneer in Internet radio.
Read on for advice on how you, too, can be a pioneer in your field. If you’d like to inquire about hosting your own show or advertising opportunities, contact brandy at wmrdotfm.
Brandy: Personally, I wanted to leave a legacy; I wanted to be known for educating millions of people on how to be successful.
To do that, we launched the network to become the destination for education and entertainment in the B2B marketplace. We produce Internet radio shows featuring the best minds out there—Internet pioneers driving business innovation. We offer education via high-spirited interviews, while also providing a chat room where people could connect and foster professional and personal relationships.
Sally: What unmet need have you filled in the marketplace?
Brandy: Business people needed and still need to connect stateside and internationally. There is consistent need for education and actionable business advice. Our solution was to deliver sticky and compelling original programming, and provide chat rooms so people could talk one-on-one or as a group.
Sally: So how did you innovate once Facebook and LinkedIn arrived and later Twitter?
Brandy: At the beginning, our focus was on search engine optimization and related topics. Today we have expanded to become the largest online radio network for the B2B marketplace with a special focus on digital marketing. While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have certainly changed the way of the world, they do not offer original programming. In fact, our content is shared on those networks. We produce the content—those networks are platforms for delivering it. Current and new listeners find us via those networks, just like other news organizations are found and followed.
Sally: Given all the social and digital innovation around you, how did you conceive and launch new products?
Brandy: I believe that 80% of business innovation comes from passion and the other 20% is looking at your deficits and finding ways to turn disadvantages into new products and hence a competitive edge. We have always done that by reaching out to our circle of influence. The answer is always no unless you ask, and most people want to help.
My advice to entrepreneurs is collect answers and see what your connections are telling you. You also have to involve your team—whether they’re employees, paid consultants or unpaid mentors. Have fun. I think happiness generates happiness and fuels the engine for creativity. We toss ideas around in the office, sometimes super funny and off the wall ideas, but when you think big and crazy, there is usually a nugget of awesome in there that may be applied to the solution.
Sally: Sounds like your new Clear Channel partnership is another example of using strategic alliances to innovate.
Brandy: First, I used to work for Clear Channel, so personally that is a nice feather in my cap. Reach wise, they have 350 million app downloads and 7 million daily active users on their talk platform. Our radio shows are being introduced to a whole new set of people who may not be familiar with us. The lift potential is breathtaking.
Sally: What kind of people host shows? What do they get out of it?
Brandy: We have dozens of show hosts including:
- Weber Shandwick founder Larry Weber, who interviews Fortune 100 executives on his show Market Edge;
- marketing veterans Gillian Muessig, Anne Kennedy and Nina Price, whose show CEO Coach covers topics ranging from finance to personal branding;
- Maria Reitan, principal at Carmichael-Lynch Spong, whose show Purse Strings has 200 episodes about marketing to women; and
- Mike O’Neill and Lori Ruff, who Rock the World with LinkedIn and demonstrate ow the business netwroking platforkm can grow your business;
- and last but not least, Landing Page Optimization host Tim Ash, who has founded many Internet start-ups including Epic Sky and SiteTuners.com.
With all of our hosts, we work to develop their voice in the business world. Everyone’s agenda is a little different. Some people want to put their stake in the ground from a thought leadership perspective. Some exec’s want to generate leads. Other people want to humanize their company and show what they are doing to build and motivate talent. Either way, they want to affect the world in a positive way, and we help them do that by giving them an educational and global platform. In the end, we help people to artfully ttell heir story.
Sally: What sort of traffic and listenership do you get?
Brandy: We have listeners in 172 countries; our programs are downloaded in 152. Overall, we have 500,000 to 1 million visitors a month. Our listeners are comprised of small-business owners to executives at HBO, Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Omaha Steaks, Mutual of Omaha and everyone in between. Our listeners are early adopters, white color professionals, who purchase 10 round-trip airline tickets per year. Our average listener listens to three radio shows a week, and listens 30 minutes a day.
Sally: You have such an amazing understanding of your audience–A real key for any business owner.
Brandy: You’ve got to know your audience, the people you are serving. We track our listenership closely to identify our most popular shows and identify other people to host shows that will resonate with our expanding audience.
We also put our ear to the seashell and see what we hear. We work with many of the world’s most prestigious conferences and broadcast from there. And we use those conferences to generate information on the topics businesspeople find the most valuable. I would say our network keeps our finger on the pulse of what is important to people globally—we use our network as a giant focus group. We have an invested listener base who gives us very specific feedback on what they want to hear.
Sally: Any closing words on creative problem-solving?
Brandy: I am a firm believer that you can fix anything…just keep breathing. I find if you are having a problem or a disconnect then other people are, too. Take the deficit and turn it into profit.
To inquire about hosting a show or advertising opportunities, contact brandy at wbrdotfm.